Thursday, January 21, 2021

Cumulus Makes Changes In Sales Leadership


CUMULUS MEDIA has  announced important changes to sales leadership, effective immediately.

Ron Russo is appointed President, Sales at Westwood One responsible for the network sales and sales planning organizations and reporting to Westwood One President, Suzanne Grimes. Ron has more than 17 years of sales leadership experience, most recently as Westwood One’s EVP of Sales for the Northeast region, prior to which he held sales leadership roles at iHeart and CBS Radio. Ron replaces Bryan Forbes who is leaving the company to pursue another opportunity.

Rafe D’Amico is promoted to SVP, President of National Sales, responsible for leading the Cumulus Radio Station Group’s national spot team and managing the relationship with Katz Radio Group, succeeding Bryan Forbes in this capacity and reporting to Dave Milner, EVP, Operations, CUMULUS MEDIA. Prior to joining Cumulus, Rafe was VP of Strategic Partnerships and National Sales at Beasley Broadcast Group (now Beasley Media Group).

Brandon Berman
, EVP Sales and Sports Partnerships at Westwood One, expands beyond his current oversight of the Midwest region and Westwood One Sports sales, to assume responsibility for the Northeast region as well. Brandon has built his career at Westwood One, with 15 years of increasingly senior positions from his earliest days as an account executive.

Kim Bryant, EVP of Sales for the West and Southwest regions at Westwood One, picks up responsibility for the Southeast region. During Kim’s 10+ years with the company, she has held various sales leadership roles at Westwood One and the Market Manager position for Cumulus New York, prior to which she held management roles at Clear Channel and Entravision.

Adam Shifrin is promoted to VP, Sports Sales and Marketing at Westwood One. A seven-year veteran, Adam retains his current responsibility for generating sports revenue in the Midwest and West regions, and now manages all Westwood One Sports Play by Play, CBS Sports Radio, and associated shoulder inventory as well as the dedicated sports sales and operations teams.

“Westwood One is extremely fortunate to have a group of sales executives poised to lead the team forward seamlessly,” said Suzanne Grimes. “I’m thrilled to announce these well-deserved promotions that will enable us to manage through this challenging pandemic with confidence, commitment, resilience and results.”

“The station group has benefited greatly from Rafe’s knowledge and strategic approach to its National business,” said Dave Milner. “Promoting him to lead the talented team and our relationship with Katz is well-deserved.”

The New Television Landscape: Where The Viewers Are



eMarketer forecasts that in just two years, video streaming services will fully overtake cable subscriptions, and 64.4 million homes will watch streamed content exclusively. But while the predominance of streaming grabs all the headlines, the mostly untold story is the growth of advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD), according to Ad Age.

Up to 90% of all video ad budgets continue to go to linear spends, according to eMarketer. This imbalance of where the ad dollars go compared with where the audience goes leaves a lot of opportunity for companies that can be flexible and think outside the cable box. For advertisers in search of a younger, more diverse and nationally representative audience who can’t be reached via linear TV, AVOD will become an even more prominent complement to existing linear campaigns in the year ahead.

Network and cable TV have long been the standard for home viewing options, and in many ways, the waves of cord-cutters in the past five years have been early adopters. While live events such as the Super Bowl and the Oscars are big draws for network audiences and advertising, larger numbers of consumers are recoiling from paying for extra channels that they don’t watch, all while cable costs significantly outpace inflation. According to Broadband Search, 45 million consumers cut the cord in 2020. 

Compare that with the exponential growth of streaming services. According to Tubi’s  audience report, The Stream: 2021 Actionable Audience Insights for Brands consumers subscribe to an average of four streaming platforms per household and watch roughly 13 hours of content each week. Some 33 million monthly active users streamed more than 2.5 billion hours last year—a 58% growth in viewership over 2019—and since nearly half our streamers do not have cable, our audience represents an incremental reach of 80% over the top 25 cable networks, according to MRI-Simmons.



Streaming skews younger as well; the majority (57%) of Tubi’s younger streamers (18 to 34) do not subscribe to cable. Not only are they eschewing the traditional advertising model, but they are also becoming increasingly unreachable by linear TV. Nearly half of Tubi’s active monthly users are under 35, making them 20-plus years younger than traditional television audiences. Additionally, 36% of these viewers’ households have children, meaning there are multiple built-in demographics per home.

Pittsburgh Radio: Wendy Bell Is Back...On WJAS-AM

Wendy Bell

Controversial talk show host Wendy Bell has announced she is returning to local radio next week following her abrupt departure from KDKA 1020 AM last fall. Bell stated on social media that she will join iHeartMedia's WJAS 1320 AM beginning Jan. 25.

"America needs common sense conservatism," Bell stated in the Facebook post. "Let's roll!"

Bell said she will be on the air from 11 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Entercom's KDKA took the former TV news anchor off the air in September after she suggested that park rangers should shoot people who vandalize monuments honoring historical figures. In October, the station said KDKA and Bell had agreed to mutually part ways.

WJAS is owned by St. Barnabas Broadcasting, a division of the Richland-based St. Barnabas Health System. It features conservative talk show hosts such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Dave Ramsey and Mark Levin.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette To End Friday Print Edition



After Feb. 26, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will ax its Friday print version, but continue its print editions for Thursday and Sunday. The newspaper will also transfer its Local Xtra and Varsity Xtra sections, news and sports coverage of city neighborhoods, to Thursday.

Mediapost reports the move follows the announcement in early October 2019 that the publication would only deliver print copies on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The decision is part of its transition to a digital-only newspaper.

To compensate for the loss of Friday, the Sunday edition will add more than 10 pages and new content, PPG announced. It will continue to sell a slim Saturday print edition in retail stores.

“We’ve seen over the past year increased demand for digital content,” said Kurt Franck, vice president of newspaper operations for Block Communications Inc., the Toledo, Ohio-based owner of the Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade. "We think e-delivery is better, and we make no apologies for doing this.”

The Post-Gazette’s digital efforts include its site, a daily electronic edition and NewsSlide, a digital site accessible by mobile devices.

The newspaper claimed 101,747 paid Sunday subscribers, including 71,520 print and 30,227 digital, in Q4 2020. Paid subscribers for daily editions totaled 74,444, including 44,371 print and 30,073 digital. 

There is no word on how the move will affect staffers. The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh has remained in negotiations with Block Communications since March 2017, when its contract expired. Guild members voted to authorize a strike in August over the failure to negotiate a new contract.

Philly Radio: Talker Gary Hendler Pardoned By President Trump

It was 5:30 a.m. Wednesday when Gary Hendler shot up in bed in his Ardmore home to scroll through the list of the 73 people President Donald Trump had just pardoned.

He’d given up hope of seeing his name, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Six years ago he filled out a 90-page application to get pardoned for a drug-related crime he’d committed in the early 1980s. “I didn’t think I would get it from Trump. I’m not famous. I’m not anything.” Hendler didn’t even vote for Trump.

“Then I saw Gary Evan Hendler and I got all choked up. I couldn’t believe it,” he said, his voice cracking. “It’s a miracle.” He turned to his wife, Marjorie. “This must be what it feels like when you hit the lottery.”

Hendler, a 67-year-old father of two daughters, has spent the last 38 years helping others recover from addiction. In 1985, he started AA meetings at Main Line Reform Temple and they continue today. He hosts the Clean and Sober Radio show on WWDB 860 AM and Gov. Tom Wolf recently appointed Hendler to serve on the Pennsylvania Advisory Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

In 1982, he faced local drug charges and his attorney told him he’d look good in court if he went into rehab. “A bulb went off and I said I’d had enough,” he said.

Wake-Up Call: Biden Urges National Unity



Joe Biden made an appeal for unity to a divided nation the central theme of his inaugural address Wednesday after he took the oath of office administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to become the 46th U.S. president. Declaring in the wake of the attack two weeks earlier on the U.S. Capitol, the same place where he was sworn in yesterday, that, quote, "democracy had prevailed," Biden spoke about the scope of the crises facing the country, led by the coronavirus pandemic, and urged Americans to unite to face them together, saying, "We must end this uncivil war." 


Biden also said that he'd be a president for all Americans, pledging to, quote, "fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did." There was also history made yesterday when Kamala Harris was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as the first female vice president.


The inaugural ceremony also included Lady Gaga singing the national anthem, Jennifer Lopez performing, "This Land is Your Land," and Garth Brooks singing, "Amazing Grace." Additionally, 22-year-old poet Amanda Gordon read a poem she'd written for the occasion called, "The Hill We Climb." 
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton with there with their spouses, as was outgoing Vice President Mike Pence, representing the departing administration since Donald Trump broke more than 150 years of tradition by not attending.

Lady Gaga and Amanda Gordon
There were fewer people than normal attending because of the coronavirus pandemic, and for the same reason, people weren't packed on the National Mall to watch in celebration, instead 200,000 Americans flags had been planted. Some 25,000 National Guard troops were in the lock-downed streets of Washington to provide security in the wake of the attack on the Capitol. Although there had been warnings of potential violence in Washington and at the capitols in all 50 states surrounding the inauguration, demonstrations never materialized.

After the ceremony, Biden and Harris laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Ceremony, joined by their spouses as well as the three former presidents and their spouses. A "virtual parade" took place with events from across the country since a traditional parade couldn't be held due to the pandemic. But Biden, Harris and their families did walk part of the way as they proceeded to the White House. In the evening, an event called Celebrating America aired on all the major networks, hosted by Tom Hanks and with musical performers including John Legend, Katy Perry, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and more, instead of the traditional inaugural balls. Biden and Harris also spoke during it, and it concluded with a fireworks show around the Washington Monument as Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, watched from the White House.

Biden Signs Executive Orders:

After being inaugurated, President Biden signed some 15 executive orders, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, requiring the wearing of face masks on federal property, reversing former President Trump's removal of the U.S. from the World Health Organization, and extending eviction and foreclosure moratoriums amid the pandemic. Biden also revoked the permit for controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, halting its construction.

Trump Leaves for Mar-a-Lago

President Trump left the White House yesterday morning and held a brief farewell celebration at nearby Joint Base Andrews before flying Air Force One for the final time to Florida, where he plans to live at his Mar-a-Lago resort. He wished the incoming administration well, while never mentioning Biden's name, and suggested a potential political return of some kind, saying, "we will be back in some form." He also stated, "I will always fight for you. I will be watching. I will be listening and I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better." He also left with the words, "Have a good life." Although Trump never phoned Biden to congratulate him and concede, never invited him for a post-election White House visit, and didn't attend his successor's inauguration, he did honor one tradition, and left a note for Biden in the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. Biden told reporters it was a, quote, "very generous letter."

➤THREE NEW SENATORS SWORN IN, GIVING DEMOCRATS MAJORITY: Three U.S. senators were sworn in yesterday by new Vice President Kamala Harris, giving Democrats majority control. Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock, who won their runoff races in Georgia on January 5th, and Alex Padilla, who was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to Harris' Senate seat, took their oaths of office. The Senate is now split 50-50 between the Democrats and the Republicans, but Democrats have the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. 


➤STATES REPORTING COVID VACCINE SHORTAGES: Several states are reporting that they're running out of their supplies of Covid-19 vaccines, even as health officials grow increasingly concerned about mutations of the virus. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city had to cancel 23,000 appointments because of shortages, and Governor Andrew Cuomo said they expected to run out of first shot dosages in a couple of days. Complaints of shortages also came from places including the Miami area, San Francisco, Ohio, and Hawaii. The Health and Human Services Department suggested last week that states had unrealistic expectations for how much vaccine was coming. However, with the new administration now having taken office, President Biden has promised to administer 100 million shots in 100 days. 


➤VENDING MACHINES SELLING COVID TESTS FOR NEARLY $150 EACH LAUNCHING IN US CITIES:
  Some Americans will be able to buy COVID tests as easily as a bag of chips. Vending machines that dispense at-home COVID-19 tests for $149 will soon debut in cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Dallas from the health company Wellness 4 Humanity. The group says the machines are slated to pop up in cities this month. The machines will sell two types of the tests: the TRUSTPASS Rapid Antigen At-Home Test Kit (which provides results in 15 minutes, with no shipping or lab work required and is said to have 97.4% accuracy), and the At-Home Saliva RT-PCR Test, which is done through saliva collection, rather than nasal swabs, and customers can get their results within 48 hours with 99% accuracy. Those who use the latter test will be provided with a shipping label to use to send the saliva to a lab partner, and they can get their results via the TRUSTPASS app. Lian Pham, CEO and co-founder of Wellness 4 Humanity, said in a statement, “These vending machines are a significant milestone in helping to provide Americans with easier access to fast, highly accurate COVID-19 testing.”

➤AMAZON OFFERS TO HELP WITH VACCINE ROLLOUT: Amazon is really good at getting things to people as quickly as possible, so why not the coronavirus vaccine? Amazon sent President Biden a letter on Inauguration Day yesterday offering to help with his goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office, saying it can leverage its, quote, "operations, information technology, and communications capabilities." But the offer may not be entirely altruistic. CNN reports that Amazon also asked Biden to prioritize its more than 800,000 U.S. workers for getting the vaccine. Most of them work in Amazon fulfillment centers, Web Services data centers, of Whole Food stories. If you're wondering why this offer wasn't made to the Trump administration, Fox News did too, saying the company didn't respond to its request for them to comment on why they didn't.

➤CONNECTICUT MAN CHARGED FOR PINNING OFFICER CRUSHED IN DOORWAY IN CAPITOL ATTACK: A 23-year-old Connecticut man who was caught on widely-viewed video pinning an officer who was being crushed in a doorway during the attack on the U.S. Capitol has been charged with assaulting officers, federal authorities said yesterday. Patrick McCaughey III of Ridgefield was arrested Tuesday, and a federal magistrate judge yesterday ordered him detained without bail, calling his actions disturbing and saying he was a threat to the community. McCaughey is accused of hitting several police officers with a plastic riot shield, and authorities say he used the shield to pin Officer Daniel Hodges against a doorway. 


➤THREE NATIONAL GUARD SOLDIERS KILLED IN N.Y. HELICOPTER CRASH: Three New York National Guard soldiers were killed last night in a helicopter crash during a routine training mission in upstate Mendon, New York. Monroe County Sheriff Todd K. Baxter told reporters, "According to the 911 reports . . . there were calls of a sputtering, the sounds of an engine and that the aircraft was flying very low, more low than normal." First responders arrived to find the crash site in flames. The Division of Military and Naval Affairs said the incident is under investigation.

🤑POWERBALL HAS A WINNER! A single Powerball ticket sold in Maryland is the winner of an estimated $731.1 million jackpot, the first to get the top prize in months. Thanks to math and bad luck, lottery players had another shot at a giant jackpot Wednesday night that earlier had been estimated at $730 million, but it grew even further based on final ticket sales. Following the win, the new jackpot drops to an estimated $20 million for the next drawing Saturday. The winning ticket for Wednesday's jackpot was sold in Allegany County, located in northwestern Maryland, but additional details weren't immediately available, the Maryland Lottery said in a statement. The Powerball jackpot was the fifth-largest U.S. lottery jackpot ever, and it came only a day after nobody won the even-larger Mega Millions prize, which now stands at $970 million. Winning numbers for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing were: 40-53-60-68-69 and a Powerball of 22.

☔RECORD RAINFALL EXPECTED IN SOME PARTS OF DROUGHT-STRICKEN CALIFORNIA, NEVADA, ARIZONA: Those living in the Southwest have been hoping for rain for a while now. CNN reports that 70 percent of the region has been dealing with severe drought. Las Vegas, for example, has only had two episodes of rain in the last 273 days. But weather models are now predicting that three or four storms are on the way to Nevada, Arizona, and California by the end of the month, and some parts of California are predicted to get more rain over the next several days than they usually get over the course of two years. Weather.com also predicts that New Mexico, Utah, and western Colorado may also benefit from the various weather systems headed toward that part of the country.




🏀IRVING RETURNS TO NET AFTER TWO WEEKS AWAY: Kyrie Irving returned to the Brooklyn Nets last night after taking two weeks away for personal reasons. Irving scored 37 points in his first game with Kevin Durant and James Harden, which the Nets ended up losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers 147-135 in double-overtime. Irving had missed Brooklyn’s previous seven games to address unspecified issues. He told reporters only that he needed space to work through some issues to find balance in his life.

🏈MAHOMES STILL IN CONCUSSION PROTOCOL, BUT PRACTICED YESTERDAY: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was still in the NFL's concussion protocol Wednesday, but he was able to practice in limited capacity. That raised hopes that he will be able to play in the AFC title game this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Mahomes suffered a concussion in the third quarter of last Sunday's 22-17 divisional round playoff win over the Cleveland Browns and had to come out of the game. 


🏈COLTS QUARTERBACK RIVERS ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers announced yesterday that he's retiring, ending his 17-year NFL career. The 39-year-old broke the news in a statement on the Colts' website and said, "Thank you God for allowing me to live out my childhood dream of playing quarterback in the NFL. I am grateful to the Chargers for 16 seasons, and the Colts for the 17th season." Rivers won 134 career games, second among quarterbacks who haven't won a Super Bowl and eighth overall. He's also fifth in career completions, yards passing and touchdown passes. Additionally, his 240 consecutive regular-season starts was the second-longest streak since 1970, behind Brett Favre.

🏀TWO MORE NBA GAMES POSTPONED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS ISSUES: Last night's scheduled NBA game between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trial Blazers was postponed because of coronavirus issues, and the Washington Wizards planned Friday return after not playing for more than a week was pushed back to at least Sunday to give them more time to get game-ready. That brings the total to 17 games this season so far that have been postponed because of the virus, with teams dealing with not having enough players due to positive tests or contact tracing.

🏒CAPITALS FINED $100K FOR COVID VIOLATIONS: The NHL's Washington Capitals were fined $100,000 by the league yesterday for violating coronavirus protocols, including by having a gathering in a hotel room. Additionally, star Capitals player Alex Ovechkin and three others on the team were put on the Covid-19 list. Elsewhere in the league, five Carolina Hurricanes players are on the Covid list, and the team's games were postponed through at least Saturday.

🏈CAMPBELL HIRED AS LIONS' NEW HEAD COACH: The Detroit Lions announced yesterday that they had hired Dan Campbell as the team's new head coach. Campbell had been the New Orleans Saints' assistant head coach and tight ends coach for the past four years. His only past experience as head coach was 12 games as an interim head coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2015. Campbell also played 10 seasons in the NFL.

New WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki A Hit On Twitter

President Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki, a press and communications veteran in the Obama White House, promised Wednesday night the Biden administration would change the tone — and trust level — with the media, starting with daily briefings.

“We’re building trust,” she said, and declared the way to “combat misinformation ... is accurate information and truth and data, and sharing information even when it’s hard to hear.”

But Psaki (Sa-Kee) said President Biden’s No. 1 priority now is reigning in a relentless COVID-19 pandemic.

And she signaled the president wouldn’t interfere with the Senate trial of former President Donald Trump after his impeachment in the House for his role in the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol, but suggested Biden expects Congress will act on COVID relief amid the Trump reckoning.

“[Biden] is going to leave it to members of Congress to carry out their constitutional duty and determine what the path forward is and what the mechanisms will be, what the process will be, and what the timeline will be,” she said.

Psaki also delivered a pair of slick punts on hot-button issues, including whether Biden intends to return to the Iran nuclear deal.

“The president has made clear that he believes that through diplomacy, the United States should seek to lengthen and strengthen nuclear constraints on Iran and address other issues of concern,” she said. “Iran must resume compliance with significant nuclear constraints under the deal in order for that to proceed.”

She was similarly vague on Biden’s position on federal funding for abortions.

“I will take the opportunity to remind you he’s a devout Catholic. He started his day attending church with his family but I don’t have anything more on that,” she said.

Trump’s fractious relationship with the news media began from the very first news conference held by then-press secretary Sean Spicer, and continued through the next three spokeswomen: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Stephanie Grisham and Kayleigh McEnany.

Pai Warns Of Threats To Telecoms From China

Ajit Pai
Outgoing U.S. FCC chairman Ajit Pai said potential Chinese espionage and threats to U.S. telecommunications networks and internet freedom are the biggest national security issue that regulators will face in the next four years.

Ajit Pai told Reuters in an interview there is a "wide array" of activity from China that was of concern, including of surveillance, economic espionage and potential "injection of malware into networks here in the United States or around the world. There are a number of bad things that can happen when insecure equipment is used to handle sensitive information."

Pai was named chairman in January 2017 by former President Donald Trump and stepped down on Wednesday. During his tenure, the FCC cracked down on Chinese network manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE.

Last month, the FCC began the process of revoking China Telecom’s authorization to operate in the United States. China Telecom is the largest Chinese telecommunications company.

"The Chinese Communist Party has a very determined world view. They want to dominate this space and exert their will -- even beyond their own borders," Pai said Tuesday. "That is a serious threat not just to internet freedom but to national security for us and for many of our allies."

The FCC first warned in April might terminate U.S. operations of three state-controlled Chinese telecommunications companies including China Telecom.

In 2019, the FCC voted to deny state-owned China Mobile the right to provide U.S. telecommunications services, citing risks the Chinese government could use the approval to conduct espionage.

Under Pai, the FCC formally designated China’s Huawei and ZTE Corp as national security threats, barring U.S. firms from tapping an $8.3 billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies. Congress approved $1.9 billion in December to pay for replacement of Chinese-made equipment in U.S. networks.

TV Ratings: Football Dominates The Top 20 Shows


NFL and college football and sturdy drama franchises including the “Chicago” shows on NBC and the “NCIS” group on CBS were among the week’s ratings winners, according to The Associated Press citing Nielsen figures out Wednesday.

The second impeachment of now-former President Donald Trump drew viewers to news shows, but not in the numbers that tuned in the prior week to bear witness to rioting inside the U.S. Capitol and gave CNN get its biggest single-day audience ever.

CBS’ news magazine “60 Minutes,” which included reports on the Capitol attack and security measures for President Joe Biden’s inauguration, was the week’s top non-sports broadcast despite competition from a NFL divisional playoff game.

That contest, between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints was the week’s No. 1 program. It helped make Fox the most-watched network with an average 9.1 million viewers, followed by NBC with 6.4 million. CBS had 4.1 million, ABC had 3.5 million, Univision had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 1 million and Ion Television had 940,000.

ESPN was the most-watched cable network in prime-time, averaging 3.2 million for the week. CNN had 3.1 million, MSNBC had 2.7 million and HGTV had 1.1 million.

For the week of Jan. 11-17, the 20 most-watched programs in prime time, their networks and viewership:

👉Top 20 Prime-Time TV Show (Total Audience):

1. NFC Playoff: Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Fox, 35.5 million.

2. NFL Playoff: Baltimore at Buffalo, NBC, 26.2 million.

3. College football championship: Ohio State at Alabama, ESPN, 18.5 million.

4. NFL Pregame, NBC, 18.3 million.

5. NFC Postgame, Fox, 18 million.

6. College football pregame, ESPN, 12.8 million.

7. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.57 million.

8. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” ABC. 7.8 million.

9. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 7.6 million.

10. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 7.3 million.

11. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 6.6 million.

12. “Great North,” Fox, 6.1 million.

13. “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 5.6 million.

14. “Magnum P.I.,” CBS, 5.5 million.

15. “This Is Us,” NBC, 5.46 million.

16. “The Chase,” ABC, 5.45 million.

17. “NCIS,” CBS, 5.2 million.

18. “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 5.1 million.

19. “MacGyver,” CBS, 5 million.

20. “The Price is Right,” CBS, 4.9 million.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” topped the evening news ratings contest, averaging 10.3 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 8.5 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.3 million.

Syndication:   Beloved Jeopardy host Alex Trebek ended his more than 36-year run on a high note in the session ending Jan. 10, taking the game show to a 29% increase from the week before and a new season high 6.6 live-plus-same-day national Nielsen rating. Trebek taped his final programs just 10 days before he died on Nov. 8 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Wheel of Fortune, which is often paired with Jeopardy, also hit its best ratings of the season, shooting up 18% to a 6.0.

Ocala FL Radio: WMFQ Adds Elvis Duran For Mornings


JVC Media of Florida announces the addition of Elvis Duran and the Q92.9 Morning Show on Gainesville-Ocala’s Top 40 WMFQ Q92.9 beginning Monday January 25th, 2021 at 6am.

JVC Ocala-Gainesville Operations Manager Ben Burris says, “The Q92.9 listeners demanded more hit music and a content-rich show for their morning drive, and that is what we found in Elvis Duran and his outstanding cast of characters. Elvis Duran and the Q Morning Show will be the only show of its kind in our part of Florida playing all of today’s biggest hits, while adding in up to the minute pop culture news, celebrity guests, and hilarious fan-favorite segments every single day!”

“We are so excited to welcome Elvis Duran, Danielle, Gandhi, and the entire cast to North Central Florida’s airwaves… our loyal Q listeners are going to love the Phone Tap, the 3 Things You Need to Know, the Danielle Report, and all the huge celebrity guests,” adds Stevie DeMann, JVC Florida’s Director of Programming.

“Q92.9 has been a top choice for listeners and our clients in the Ocala-Gainesville market for so many years,” adds JVC Ocala-Gainesville GM Sam Gerace. “Elvis Duran and the Q Morning Show will add what this area of Florida needs – a direct connection to the world of hit music and the biggest celebrities on the planet. We look forward to Elvis and the gang being the most entertaining morning show and giving JVC an even bigger competitive edge.”

JVC Broadcasting was formed in July 2009. The company operates 16 radio stations, Long Island Events, and Long Island Community Hospital Amphitheater at Bald Hill, a 7,000-person outdoor concert and event facility on Long Island. We broadcast and present with the mindset that by under promising and over delivering, having integrity in all of our relationships, and creating an atmosphere of high energy fun and excitement, our results will be exceptional for our clients, listeners, and families. For additional information, visit www.jvcbroadcasting.com

Cincy Radio: WLW Brings Back Hour Of America's Truckin' Network


 America's Truckin' Network has returned to WLW 700 AM as a one-hour recorded show two months after the station dropped the live overnight show hosted by Steve Sommers, according to media watcher John Kiesewtter at Cincinnati Public Radio.

Eric "Bubba Bo" Boulanger, a former ATN weekend host, does the midnight-1 a.m. show with Ed "Mr. Motorkote" Gibbs of MotorKote engine lubricants, a longtime ATN sponsor. Gibbs, a regular ATN guest for 15 years, was popular for asking trivia questions and riddles to listeners.

The show is recorded because Boulanger has hosted mornings on Lawrenceburg's Country WSCH "Eagle Country 99.3" from 5-11 a.m. weekdays since 2005. ATN is only an hour – for now – to fill the gap between Gary Jeff Walker's 9 p.m.-midnight show and the nationally syndicated 1-6 a.m. Red Eye Radio show from WBAP-AM in Dallas.  

WLW-AM has aired Red Eye Radio since late December. It replaced a local overnight show hosted by Dan Carroll, a former WCPO-TV helicopter traffic reporter and WXIX-TV news anchor who has filled in on WLW-AM talk shows.

Gibbs says the new ATN could go live – and expand to multiple hours – later this year. WLW-AM General Manager D.J. Hodge, Operations Director Scott Reinhart, and Boulanger have not responded to requests for comments about the new ATN.

Gibbs says he's "still getting calls" from fans who miss the five-hour live ATN. His trivia and riddle segments with Sommers would light up all of the studio phone lines, he says. Gibbs also has done regular segments on Detroit's WJR-AM, Nashville's WSM-AM and Red Eye Radio for MotorKote, based in Gahanna, Ohio.

Boulanger, who came to Cincinnati to do sports on WCKY-AM, is best known as Jim Fox's morning sidekick on WUBE-FM until Fox was fired in 2000 for soliciting a minor in Xenia. Boulanger has worked at Eagle Country since 2005. Boulanger's Eagle Country bio describes him as a 25-year Tri-State radio veteran and a four-time nominee for the County Music Association's large market Personality of the Year.

America's Truckin' Network grew out of WLW-AM's Midwest overnight truckers' show started in 1984 by Dale "Truckin' Bozo" Sommers, Steve's father. Steve started working with his dad in 1996, and took over the show in 2004. It aired seven nights a week at midnight, even after Bill Cunningham premiered his nationally syndicated Sunday 10 p.m.-1 a.m. talk show in 2007. The ATN pre-empted the last hour of Cunningham's national show, on his flagship station, for 13 years until WLW-AM canceled Sommers' show in November.

Voice of America CEO Resigns At Biden's Request

Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who sought to remake the Voice of America and other government-funded overseas news agencies, resigned on Wednesday, bringing an end to a short and tumultuous tenure.

The Washington Post reports Pack quit a few hours after President Biden took office and less than eight months into his three-year term as chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). The government agency oversees VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and other networks that produce and distribute news to millions of people in countries whose governments suppress independent reporting.

He said that his resignation came at Biden’s request. During the president campaign, Biden’s staff had signaled that he would replace Pack if Biden won election.

Biden named Kelu Chao, a veteran VOA journalist, as Pack’s interim replacement later on Wednesday. A permanent successor must be confirmed by the Senate.

Pack, a former documentary filmmaker who has worked with former Trump adviser Steve K. Bannon, left a trail of controversies, lawsuits and general criticism inside and around the agencies he oversaw.

He characterized his efforts — which included replacing top managers and asserting the right to direct VOA’s newsgathering, despite a firewall of regulations intended to keep the news product independent — as an attempt to restore the venerable news agency’s tradition of nonpartisan reporting. Critics, however, saw his initiatives as an effort to turn VOA into a mouthpiece for the Trump administration.

One VOA journalist said Pack’s resignation triggered “sighs of relief and cheers” among employees.

“Most if not all of us are celebrating Pack’s resignation as the first step toward a return to normalcy,” the journalist said, speaking on condition of anonymity because she isn’t authorized to comment.

Des Moines Radio: Former Sports Talk Host Sentenced

Marty Tirrell
Ex-Des Moines radio staple Marty Tirrell was sentenced Wednesday to serve 41 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for perpetrating sports ticket scams in central Iowa stretching back more than 10 years, reports The Des Moines Register.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose also ordered Tirrell, a once-prominent sports radio talk show host who branded himself "The Mouth of the Midwest" to pay back $1.46 million in restitution to his victims.

Tirrell, 60, pleaded guilty to mail fraud in December 2019. Evidence gathered by the FBI found that he had created a scheme in which he would initially provide clients with free tickets to major sporting events, and follow that up by suggesting that they purchase other such luxury ticket packages and re-sell them at a profit, splitting the proceeds. However, it was found that Tirrell was using that money to buy luxury items for himself or to finance his gambling.

Eventually, Tirrell resorted to stealing credit cards, kiting checks and lying to banks to try to obtain more money. When he was finally caught, he was living in his car.

Acting U.S. Attorney Richard Westphal had asked that Rose exceed the maximum sentencing guideline of 41 months in this case because of the long-running nature of Tirrell's scams and his doubt that Tirrell would ever stop lying. Westphal sought a 60-month sentence.

The restitution Tirrell was ordered to pay, with no indication that he would ever have the resources to fulfill the obligation, is to go to American Express, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West and five individuals identified only by their initials.

Tirrell, a Massachusetts native, came to Des Moines in 1995 and launched the region's first sports talk radio program the next year, calling himself "The Mouth of the Midwest." He was a constant presence on local airwaves for the next two decades, with several shows, including one simulcast on Mediacom.


NYC Radio: 77WABC Extends 'The Greatest Show Of All Time'

Clint Arthur
Talkradio 77 WABC announces that it has extended its commitment with “The Greatest Show of All Time” starring celebrity entrepreneur Clint Arthur to continue during the entirety of 2021. The show, which has been part of the 77 WABC Radio lineup for three years, airs every Sunday night at midnight.

Arthur noted: “The mission of this show is a personal, professional, and spiritual transformation for entrepreneurs, business owners, CEO’s and anyone responsible for improving their own life and who wants to be more, do more and have more. As a Native New Yorker, I am thrilled by this opportunity to give back to the city that made me who I am today.”

Born, raised, and still living in New York City, Arthur is a graduate of PS 40, JHS 104, and Stuyvesant High School, where he studied creative writing for two years with Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, whom Clint credits for inspiring him to become a writer. His #1 bestselling books include: What They Teach You at The Wharton Business School, as well as Speaking Game: 7-Figure Speaker Secrets, and The Greatest Book of All Time. 

An award-winning entrepreneur and frequent speaker at Harvard University, Nasdaq, Coca-Cola, and West Point, Clint is also a popular television expert guest, with over 100 network television appearances including: The Today Show, Mornings with Maria, CNN, HLN, BBC, SkyNews, and Good Day LA.

NY Radio: WKZA Jamestown Imports Ashley & Brad for Mornings


Sun Broadcast Group’s nationally syndicated morning show, Ashley & Brad, is starting 2021 off strong with the addition of WKZA-FM as its latest affiliate. Media One Radio’s 106.9 expands the duo’s reach into Jamestown, New York. Ashley Paige and Brad Abrell wake up “KISS FM” listeners with all of the news and information they need, plenty of laughs, fun interaction and a ton of Today's Best Music. 

Ashley Paige said, “We’re excited to be kicking off the new year as a part of the team at 106.9 Kiss FM!”

Brad Abrell added “We’re looking forward to interacting with and waking up the community of Jamestown, New York with our brand of radio caffeine to get the day started!”

"Ashley & Brad replaced our popular local morning show, but our audience quickly accepted them because of their fun, upbeat energy and ability to make it feel like you've been listening to them for years,” said Andrew Hill, General Manager of Media One Radio Group (WKZA-FM).

“Ashley & Brad deliver major market content and total flexibility for a fraction of the cost. Plus, they go above and beyond to customize and sound live and local,” said Sun Broadcast Group Chief Development Officer Rich O’Brien. 

Ashley & Brad is produced by Skid Trax and is available as part of Sun Broadcast Group’s daypartable programming. It is available as a 4-hour show Monday through Friday, great for Hot AC, Classic Hits, or Country formats. The show is primarily a morning show but can work in any daypart. To learn more about Ashley & Brad click here.

January 21 Radio History


In 1919...actress/radio-TV host Jinx (Eugenia) Falkenburg was born in Barcelona Spain. She was a movie actress & popular model before & during World War II , after which she and her husband Tex McCrary were hosts of “Meet Tex and Jinx” a local radio talk show on WEAF, WNBC they conducted from Peacock Alley in New York’s Waldorf Astoria. They also hosted NBC TV’s At Home show, while she was a regular on TV’s charades show Masquerade Party. She died a month after her husband Aug 27, 2003 at age 84.➦In 1927...the first opera broadcast on a national Radio network occured. Radio listeners in Chicago, Illinois heard music from Faust.


In 1935...WFI-AM in Philadelphia merged with WLIT to become WFIL.

WFIL was formed by a merger of two stations that were launched in 1922. One used the call letters WFI, the other was originally WDAR. Each was owned by a major Philadelphia department store; WFI was operated by Strawbridge and Clothier, while WDAR was run by Lit Brothers.

While operated independently of each other, the two were able to work out amicable share-time agreements (hundreds of other American stations at the time were unable to do so, and frequently engaged in "jamming wars"). Around 1924, WDAR applied for and received the custom call-sign WLIT. By the late 1920s, the two stations were working jointly on various programs, promotions, and sponsorship efforts. In 1935, the two operators agreed to merge with each department store having representation on the new board of directors.


The new call-sign became WFIL, a combination of the two previous identifiers (the fact that the new call letters were close to a phonetic spelling of "Philadelphia" was merely a happy coincidence).




In 1938...the legendary deejay known as Wolfman Jack was born Robert Weston Smith in Brooklyn. His unique radio style made him an icon of ’60s radio, broadcasting from XERF, then XERB in Mexico and heard throughout a major part of the U.S.; On TV he was announcer for NBC’s The Midnight Special. He died following a heart attack July 1, 1995 at age 57.

Smith was the younger of two children of Anson Weston Smith, an Episcopal Sunday school teacher, writer, editor, and executive vice president of the Financial World, and his wife Rosamond Small. His parents divorced while he was a child. To help keep him out of trouble, his father bought him a large Trans-Oceanic radio, and Smith became an avid fan of R&B music and the disc jockeys who played it, including "Jocko" Henderson of Philadelphia, New York's "Dr. Jive" (Tommy Smalls), the "Moon Dog" from Cleveland, Alan Freed, and Nashville's "John R." Richbourg, who later became his mentor.

After selling encyclopedias and Fuller brushes door-to-door, Smith attended the National Academy of Broadcasting in Washington, D.C. Graduating in 1960, he began working as "Daddy Jules" at WYOU in Newport News, Virginia. In 1962, he moved to country music station KCIJ 1050 AM in Shreveport, Louisiana as the station manager and morning disc jockey, "Big Smith with the Records". He married Lucy "Lou" Lamb in 1961, and they had two children.

Disc jockey Alan Freed had played a role in the transformation of black rhythm and blues into rock and roll music, and originally called himself the "Moon Dog" after New York City street musician Moondog. Freed both adopted this name and used a recorded howl to give his early broadcasts a unique character. Smith's adaptation of the Moondog theme was to call himself Wolfman Jack and add his own sound effects. The character was based in part on the manner and style of bluesman Howlin' Wolf. It was at KCIJ that he first began to develop his famous alter ego Wolfman Jack.

Wolfman Jack played role of a DJ in 'American Graffiti'


According to author Philip A. Lieberman, Smith's "Wolfman" persona "derived from Smith's love of horror flicks and his shenanigans as a 'wolfman' with his two young nephews. The 'Jack' was added as a part of the 'hipster' lingo of the 1950s.


In 1946...“The Fat Man” began its 5-year run on ABC radio. J. Scott Smart, who played the portly detective, weighed in at 270 pounds in real life.



In 1978... the soundtrack of “Saturday Night Fever” reached #1 on the album charts — a position it held for the next 24 weeks. It sold over 30 million copies world wide, making it the best selling soundtrack album of all time.


In 1984...singer Jackie Wilson died at the age of 49. He had been in a coma since his 1975 heart attack during a concert in New Jersey. His funeral was held in Detroit.

In 1997...music industry legend Col. Tom Parker, the immigrant Dutch promoter who guided Elvis Presley to stardom, died in Las Vegas from complications from a stroke. He was 87.


In 1996...WYNY 103.5 FM NYC confirmed rumors that they were dropping country.


In 1998...WNSR 105.1 FM NYC became WBIX "Big 105"


In 2005...College DJ, Dave Plotkin, from Rollins College's WPRK-FM in Winter Park, Florida, set a record for the world's longest continuous broadcast by a single DJ. He stayed on the air for 110 hours.


In 2006...after 18 years Bob Kingsley gave up his hosting of the syndicated radio show “American Country Countdown.” He was succeeded by singer Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, who is still doing it.


In 2010...WWRL 1600 AM dropped “Air America” progressive talk format.


In 2013...WRXP 94.7 FM NYC becomes Country “NashFM”, soon changing call letters to WNSH.


🎂HAPPY BIRTHDAY:
  • Opera singer Placido Domingo is 80. 
  • Actor Jill Eikenberry is 74. 
  • Emma Bunton is 45
    Guitarist Jim Ibbotson (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 74. 
  • Singer-songwriter Billy Ocean is 71. 
  • Actor Robby Benson is 65. 
  • Actor Geena Davis is 65. 
  • Actor Charlotte Ross (“NYPD Blue”) is 53. 
  • Singer Marc Gay of Shai is 52. 
  • Actor Karina Lombard (“The L Word”) is 52. 
  • Actor Ken Leung (“Marvel’s Inhumans,” ″Lost”) is 51. 
  • Rapper Levirt of B-Rock and the Bizz is 51. 
  • Drummer Mark Trojanowski of Sister Hazel is 51. 
  • Singer Cat Power is 49. 
  • DJ Chris Kilmore of Incubus is 48. 
  • Singer Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) of the Spice Girls is 45. 
  • Actor Jerry Trainor (“Wendell & Vinnie,” ″iCarly”) is 44. 
  • Singer Nokio of Dru Hill is 42. 
  • Actor Izabella Miko (“Coyote Ugly”) is 40. 
  • Actor Luke Grimes (TV’s “Yellowstone,” film’s “Fifty Shades”) is 37. 
  • Actor Feliz Ramirez (TV’s “Grand Hotel”) is 29.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Justices Lean Toward FCC Bid To Loosen Media Ownership Rules



Conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices signaled sympathy on Tuesday toward a bid by President Donald Trump’s administration, backed by broadcast companies, to loosen regulations that critics have said promote a diversity of views in local broadcast media and ownership by racial minorities and women, reports Reuters.

During arguments by teleconference in the case, conservative justices asked questions that appeared to indicate they believe the FCC did not overstep its authority in repealing certain media ownership regulations in 2017. The court has a 6-3 conservative majority.

The justices were considering appeals by the FCC, companies including News Corp, Fox Corp and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc and the National Association of Broadcasters of a lower court ruling that blocked the rule changes for failing to consider the effects on ownership diversity.

The broadcast industry wants a freer hand to consolidate operations, and the FCC’s move helped that goal. But critics of the FCC’s action have said loosening ownership rules as the agency did could jeopardize a wider array of news and information sources at the local level.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has thwarted the FCC’s efforts to revise the rules since 2003 in a series of decisions.

Chief Justice John Roberts and other conservative justices focused during the arguments on the FCC’s obligation to extensively analyze potential impacts on women and minorities.

Roberts wondered whether the FCC should have to justify changing its focus from one priority to another that it thinks is more important, such as cross-ownership between broadcast and print media as opposed to ownership by minorities and women.

Fellow conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch said that a 1996 law directing the FCC to periodically review ownership rules had a “deregulatory impulse and yet that impulse idea has never been exercised.”

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that the FCC has “for decades” considered minority and women ownership when making its rules and that legal precedent requires an adequate explanation if that approach is rejected.


At issue in the case is a 2019 ruling by the 3rd Circuit, which ordered the FCC to reconsider the issue.

In 2017, the Republican-led FCC voted to eliminate a ban in place since 1975 on cross-ownership of a newspaper and TV station in a major market. It also voted to make it easier for media companies to buy additional TV stations in the same market, for local stations to jointly sell advertising time and for companies to buy additional radio stations in some markets.

The new rules were challenged by a number of community advocacy groups led by Prometheus Radio Project.

NuVoodoo Study Sheds Light On Americans’ Concerns.


  • 51% of Respondents Say They Only Want to Hear Relevant Facts From Radio – and No Opinions - About Political Protests and Riots
  • 67% Say They Are Concerned About Democracy in America
  • 60% Believe That President-Elect Joe Biden Won the Election 
  • 55% Reveal That Are Afraid of Violence From Recent Protests

NuVoodoo Media Services has announced that its ongoing national study conducted online January 8-18, 2021, among persons 16-54 reveals an overwhelming concern among Americans over political violence in the U.S.; particularly, the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and ongoing threats of violence, and a need for vocal community support from local media.

67% of respondents expressed that they are concerned about democracy in America, and 60% believe that President-Elect Joe Biden won the election. 55% say they are afraid of violence associated with protests.

42% of respondents shared that they have a positive impression of media outlets or companies that explicitly denounce the Capitol protestors and the elected officials that support them, while another 42% say that they have a positive impression of media outlets or companies that issue statements against Trump or election protestors. As it pertains to recent events at the U.S. Capitol, 65% of respondents say they are strongly against the riots and/or violent protests, while 23% strongly support peaceful protests.

In addition, 51% of respondents reported that they only want to hear relevant facts from their radio stations and no opinions about recent political protests and riots. 49% say they want radio to share ways to keep community members safe, and 43% say they want their radio stations to have conversations with listeners and community leaders about what is going on in their community.




Click Here to Enlarge

Carolyn Gilbert, President, NuVoodoo Media Services, commented: “Post-election and pre-Inauguration, the results of our January 2021 ongoing national study are clear: Americans are deeply concerned over the insurrection at the Capitol and the continued threats of violence in the current environment of civil unrest. We condemn violence on all fronts and firmly support the rule of law. NuVoodoo aims to provide actionable data to support our industry during a time of disturbing turmoil in our nation.”

Wake-Up Confidential: Biden Inaugurated Today

Newsday 1/20/21

President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated at 12 noon today, bringing Donald Trump's presidency to a close. His day will begin with a morning church service at St. Matthew's Cathedral, joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their spouses, and, at his invitation, by the top four congressional leaders of both parties. He will sworn in at the west front of the U.S. Capitol, but without cheering supporters looking on from the National Mall because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, inaugural organizers installed 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the Mall, representing the Americans who couldn’t be there.




After their swearing-in Biden, Harris and their spouses will travel to Arlington National Cemetery along with former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama and their spouses to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There won't be a traditional inaugural parade because of the pandemic. Instead, there will be a virtual, livestreamed parade with events from around the country, as Biden and Harris get a presidential escort to the White House that will include the University of Delaware Drumline and the Howard University Drumline from Biden and Harris' alma maters, and representatives of every branch of the military, including the U.S. Army Band, a Joint Service Honor Guard, and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard and Fife and Drum Corps. There also won't be any traditional inaugural balls in the evening because of the pandemic. Instead, a televised, hour-long show calling Celebrating America will air, during which both Biden and Harris will speak.

Memorial for Coronavirus Victims:


On the eve of his inauguration, Trump and Harris led a sunset ceremony yesterday in front of the Lincoln Memorial in honor of the 400,000 Americans who have been killed by the coronavirus. Speaking briefly, Biden said, "To heal we must remember." Then as four hundred lights representing those lost to the virus lit up behind him around the Reflecting Pool, Biden said, "Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness . . . and remember all who we lost." Harris spoke about collective mourning and memory, saying, "For many months we have grieved by ourselves. Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together."

➤WTH?


Trump Video and Departure:

The White House released a farewell video from Trump yesterday on his last full day in office. In it, he touted his administration's accomplishments, saying, "I did not seek the path that would get the least criticism. I took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices because that’s what you elected me to do." Trump extended "best wishes" and "luck" to the incoming administration. He stated, "This week we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous." However, he didn't mention Biden's name. Trump also indicated he doesn't plan to fade away, saying, "I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning.'

Breaking with more than 150 years of tradition, Trump won’t be present for his successor's inauguration. Instead, he will leave the White House in the morning and fly to his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida. He'll be leaving from Joint Base Andrews, where a military-style ceremony requested by Trump will be held at 8 a.m.

➤TRUMP GRANTS CLEMENCY TO 143, INCLUDING BANNON PARDON: President Trump granted clemency to 143 people in the final hours of his presidency early this morning, 73 pardons and 70 commutations, including a pardon for Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist. Not on the list were pardons for Trump himself, his family members, or his attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Bannon's pardon ends a prosecution that was still months away from trial in which he was charged with defrauding thousands of investors who believed their money would be used to help build Trump's border wall. Other allies of Trump and his family given pardons included Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy, who pled guilty in a secret lobbying campaign to influence the administration for a foreign billionaire in exchange for millions of dollars, and former New York Observer editor Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who was charged with cyberstalking three people and harassing two others during his divorce.


Others granted clemency included: rappers Lil Wayne, on a gun possession charge, and Kodak Black, also on a weapons charge; conservative operative Paul Erickson on wire fraud and money laundering charges; former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, convicted of racketeering, extortion and filing false tax returns; and developer and venture capitalist Bob Zangrillo, who was charged in the college admission scandal. Beyond these high-profile names, most of the pardons and commutations were given to people whose cases had been pushed by criminal justice reform advocates. Trump had previously pardoned other associates and supporters, including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Kushner's father, Charles Kushner. 


➤U.S. PASSES 400,000 CORONAVIRUS DEATHS: The U.S. passed 400,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, nearly equal to the number of Americans who die each year from strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, flu and pneumonia combined, according to AP, which notes the pace of deaths is on track to surpass the number of Americans killed in World War Two by the end of the week. The U.S. accounts for nearly 20 percent of worldwide deaths from the virus, far more than any other country. 


➤MCCONNELL CONTENDS TRUMP 'PROVOKED' CAPITOL ATTACK: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said as the Senate reconvened yesterday for the first time since certifying President-elect Joe Biden's election win in the hours after the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol that the assault was, quote, "provoked" by President Trump and others who wanted to overturn the election results. McConnell said of those who mounted the attack, "The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like." The House impeached Trump last week, accusing him of inciting insurrection for the attack. McConnell has not said how he will vote when the Senate holds the trial, but some Senate Republicans have challenged the legal ability to convict a president after they've left office.

➤ARMY SOLDIER ARRESTED IN ALLEGED PLOT TO BLOW UP 9/11 MEMORIAL, OTHER LANDMARKS: A U.S. Army private was arrested Tuesday (January 19th) on terrorism charges after he allegedly spoke online about plots to blow up the 9/11 Memorial in New York as well as other landmarks, and attack U.S. soldiers in the Middle East. Twenty-year-old Cole James Bridges believed he was communicating online with the Islamic State (ISIS) group about the plots, but it was a member of the FBI. He reportedly expressed frustration with the military and said he wanted to help ISIS. He's being held of charges of attempted material support of a terrorist organization and attempted murder of a military member. Bridges was arrested in Georgia, where he was with the Third Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart.

➤POLL: AMERICANS WEIGH-IN ON BIG TECH IN WAKE OF CAPITOL ATTACK: A new Harris Poll survey asked Americans about the actions Big Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have taken to deal with violent threats, hate speech and conspiracy theories on their platforms in the wake of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. More than one-third, 37 percent, said they approve of the companies' crackdown on potentially harmful or dangerous content, 28 percent said they've gone too far, and 23 percent said they haven't gone far enough. Older Americans were more likely to say the tech companies have gone too far than younger Americans, and 51 percent of Democrats said the companies are doing a good job compared to 25 percent of Republicans. Just under one-third overall, 32 percent agreed that: "We are entering a period where Big Tech has too much power to censor voices they do not like."

➤READY TO BE A NEAR-BILLIONAIRE?:  The Mega Millions jackpot didn't have a winner again last night for its $865 million drawing, and that means the next drawing two days from now on Friday will be near $1 billion, with a projected jackpot of $970 million. That would be the third largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history. If you don't want to wait until Friday, tonight's Powerball jackpot is also a huge one, projected to be $730 million, the sixth largest in U.S. history and fourth largest in Powerball history. There hasn't been a winner of either Mega Millions or Powerball since September. The largest prize in U.S. lottery history was a $1.58 billion Powerball jackpot split by three winners in 2016. 

➤HOW GETTING DRESSED UP (OR NOT) TO SIT AT HOME ALL DAY AFFECTS YOUR MOOD: Most of us have spent nearly a year sheltering in place, and as a result, many of us have ditched jeans for sweatpants. But psychologists believe that even when nobody else will see us, how we dress has the power to influence our mental health as well as our general productivity. And the actual impact of getting dressed up or down varies from person to person. Tracy Thomas is a psychologist and says putting effort into your appearance, even the tiniest bit, is “one of the most important things people can do for their emotional, mental, and psychological health.” She says daily grooming rituals are a sign of “celebrating life,” and says these little celebrations are especially important right now. Licensed clinical psychologist Sheva Assar adds, “If we’re wearing athleisure when working out, going to brunch, outside and when working, it could potentially impact our ability to transition into work mode when we’re wanting to focus on work. So what we’re wearing helps us in making those transitions.” The experts add that creative types in particular might feel the emotional benefits of their wardrobe more than non-creative people. The final piece of advice: pick clothing and grooming practices that make you feel the most confident and comfortable.
 

➤MISSOURI WAS REPORTEDLY THE MOST-STRESSED STATE IN 2020:  Missouri might have been the most stressed-out state for 2020. OnePoll conducted a poll of over 12,500 Americans on behalf of Natrol Relaxia, and found those from Missouri were most worried about their finances, the coronavirus pandemic, and current events in 2020. Missourians even spent three hours and 18 minutes worrying about stressful situations in their lives on average per day. Mississippi was dubbed the second most-stressed state, with residents spending three hours and 12 minutes of each day worrying, followed by West Virginia (three hours and 6 minutes), and then Georgia, Louisiana and Vermont all tied for fourth most-stressed. The least stressed state of 2020 was Iowa. Collectively, 72 percent of Americans said that they found 2020 to be the most stressful year of their lives, and 57 percent went as far as to say they think they are more stressed than they have ever been.

➤DELTA CEO SAYS AIRLINE WILL PERMANENTLY BAN PASSENGERS ‘WHO REFUSE TO DISPLAY BASIC CIVILITY’: The CEO of Delta Air Lines says the carrier will permanently ban passengers who disrespect fellow customers or crew members. CEO Ed Bastian noted in a memo sent to employees on Friday that the airline has already added over 800 people to its no-fly list for refusing to wear mandatory face masks during travel, along with the new company policy. He wrote in part, “Please know that respect and civility to others on our planes, at our airports, in our workplaces and in our society—even when we have differences of opinion—have always been a requirement for our people and our customers. Those who refuse to display basic civility to our people or their fellow travelers are not welcome on Delta.”

REPORTS: SPRINGER AGREES TO SIX-YEAR, $150 MILLION DEAL WITH BLUE JAYS: Outfielder George Springer has agreed to a six-year, $150 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, according to media reports last night. The deal would be the largest in team history. The 31-year-old Springer is a three-time All-Star who spent his entire seven-season career with the Houston Astros. He was the World Series MVP when the Astros beat the L.A. Dodgers for the championship in 2017.

⚾METS FIRE GM PORTER OVER EXPLICIT TEXTS TO FEMALE REPORTER: The New York Mets fired general manager Jared Porter Tuesday over uninvited sexually explicit texts he sent to a female reporter in 2016 when he was with the Chicago Cubs. The Mets had hired the 41-year-old just over one month ago. ESPN reported the story late Monday, saying some of the texts included explicit images. The woman wasn't identified in the report, but ESPN said she was a foreign correspondent who'd come to the U.S. to cover the MLB. Porter had been senior VP and assistant general manager with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the past four seasons before being hired by the Mets.

🏒NHL'S CAROLINA-NASHVILLE GAME POSTPONED: The NHL postponed last night's scheduled game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Nashville Predators due to coronavirus concerns. The NHL didn't specify which team's issues led to the postponement, but four Hurricanes players were added to the Covid-19 list yesterday. The NHL already postponed the start of the Dallas Stars’ season after six players and two staff members tested positive for the virus. The season started last week, but Dallas isn't scheduled to play its first game until Friday.

🏌WOODS HAD RECENT BACK SURGERY, HIS FIFTH: Tiger Woods disclosed yesterday (January 19th) that he recently had his fifth back surgery and won't play in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines next week, or the Genesis Invitational in mid-February at Riviera. Woods underwent microdiscetomy surgery to remove a pressurized disc fragment that was causing him nerve pain. Doctors said the operation was successful and predict he'll have a full recovery.


⚾HALL OF FAME PITCHER DON SUTTON DEAD AT 75: Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton died Tuesday (January 19th) after a long battle with cancer. He was 75. The four-time All-Star pitched for five teams, but 16 of his 23 seasons were with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sutton is seventh on the career strikeouts list, and only Cy Young and Nolan Ryan had more starts. He had 10 or more wins in every season but two, and one 20-win season. Sutton became a broadcaster after his playing days ended, most of that career with the Atlanta Braves.